Yesterday showed exactly how seriously the Democrats of the Granite State are taking this First in the Nation Primary, and exactly who really has a chance at the nomination.
In most years, the NH Democrats’ Convention is really just a “rah rah Democrats” fundraiser and meet & greet for New Hampshire candidates. However, this year is very different. The Democratic rank-and-file demanded to be a part of the century-old tradition known as the First in the Nation Primary.
The head of the New Hampshire Democratic Party said, this year we have a “spirited primary,” and this was “the largest state party convention in NH History.”
That was a very nice way of saying we have a highly contested, no holds barred battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. The upcoming primary is still months away — but battle lines have already been drawn.
Our primary has national implications and that means everyone wants to know whom New Hampshire will choose. However, there is one thing holding the party back: the candidates’ debate schedule. Specifically, the Democratic National Committee and its Chairwoman, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz.
“We express our outrage with the DNC and NHDP for designing an extremely limited 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate Schedule with onerous Sanctions attached for non-compliance,” wrote a group of Democratic activists who actively protested Wasserman Shultz today.
The convention guests did not hold anything back as Rep. Wasserman Shultz took to the stage. The crowd began chanting, “We want debates, We want debates.”
After attempting to speak over the crowd, Wasserman Shultz finally responded by saying, “enough is enough, we have a job to do. Let’s focus on the task at hand” She continued, “We are here to talk about winning in 2016, not about more debates.” She was obviously rattled by the outspoken crowd.
— NH Labor News (@NHLABOR_NEWS) September 19, 2015
Both Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders have been outspoken about holding more debates. More debates allow for non-establishment candidates to get their message out to the people. In O’Malley’s case, it is his only chance to for people to really learn about who he is and stick around past New Hampshire and Iowa. In Sanders’ case, it is his chance to win over people in states outside of New Hampshire with his strong economic message, heading into the Super Tuesday primaries. Hillary Clinton says she is “open to more debates,” but has not used her considerable influence to push for more debates.
We need more debates. We need to show the rest of the country what we – Democrats – are running for. We need to show America that our message is their message. We need to stop letting the Republicans dominate the airwaves with their messages of hate and lies.
CNN, which hosted the GOP Debate on Tuesday night, said that it was their highest-rated debate in history, with over 24 million people watching.
We need to show America that Democrats can win in 2016, and debates are how we can do that. If Wasserman Shultz is not willing to change the debate schedule, many are ready to “make a change in DNC Leadership.”
The Main Event
Let’s not pretend that over 4,200 people attended this convention, which is usually held in high school gymnasium, just to listen to Governor Hassan, Senator Shaheen, or Congresswomen Kuster and Shea-Porter.
We were all there to hear Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
No offense to Martin O’Malley. Governor O’Malley, you have a good message of progress and yes, as Governor, you did some really good things – raising the minimum wage, passing marriage equality, expanding union rights, and worked to reduce crime and gun violence – but you are not what we are looking for in a President. You are saying the right things, but people are just not that into you, sorry.
To me it is amazing how close these two candidates, Clinton and Sanders, really are. They are talking about the same issues, in their own ways, but their solutions are what divides them.
Clinton started off by saying that “America does better with a Democrat in the White House,” and she is right. Over the last 100 years our most prosperous years have been when Democrats ran the country. “Trickle down economics was one of the worst ideas to come out of the 1980’s, except maybe big hair,” said Clinton. She also said she would fight for a higher minimum wage but did not give a number.
Sanders’ entire presidential platform is based on income inequality, wages, trade, and everything we did wrong in the 1980s-2008. Basically it boils down to this: corporations are hiding money overseas to avoid paying taxes and the wealthy are getting richer and richer every day while working Americans watch their paychecks shrink every year.
“Wages are too dam low,” Sanders said. “That is why I am pushing for minimum wage of $15 bucks an hour.”
You can begin to see what I am saying when I say they are close in some ways, but very different in others.
Clinton spoke of her plan to help college students deal with student loan debt. She calls it the “New College Compact.” Her plan is to allow students to “refinance student loans, like a mortgage or car loan.” She said, the “cost of college won’t be a barrier and student debt won’t hold people back.” The compact would push more federal money to public schools and would allow more students to attend college and leave debt free.
Like Clinton, Sanders has a plan to help college students and recent college grads. Sanders has already proposed legislation with his partner-in-progress, Elizabeth Warren, to allow college students to refinance their student loan debt like car loans and mortgages. But he differs from Clinton in how he wants to help people actually go to college. Sanders wants to make every public college and university tuition free, and he intends to make Wall Street pay for it.
“America bailed out Wall Street, now it is time for Wall Street to bail out the rest of America,” said Sanders. His plan is to place a transaction tax on all short-term investments called the “Robin Hood Tax.” Many, including Rep Keith Ellison and the National Nurses United have stood up in favor of the Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street.
As I said, the two are very close on many of the issues. Both (now) support Marriage Equality. Both support Employment Non-Discrimination Act prohibiting employers from firing a worker just because they are gay. This would give LGBT people the same workplace protections as everyone else. They both support ending the “school to prison” pipeline and ending mandatory sentencing that has put too many people in prison for minor drug offenses. Both support Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to choose.
Both are for raising wages and building a stronger middle class by strengthening our manufacturing base and reversing some of the damage done by our trade agreements. Sanders has been an outspoken advocate against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “We need trade policies that create jobs in America, not China, and together we will defeat this disastrous TPP,” said Sanders.
In early 2015, Clinton said, “Any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security. We have to do our part in making sure we have the capabilities and the skills to be competitive. It’s got to be really a partnership between our business, our government, our workforce, the intellectual property that comes out of our universities, and we have to get back to a much more focused effort in my opinion to try to produce those capacities here at home so that we can be competitive in a global economy.”
I will let you decide if they are really saying the same thing or not.
The Money Gap
Both say they want to end the corruptive influence of money in politics and pass a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United.
This is where I see the split.
At today’s convention Clinton said, “I will appoint justices who will protect the right of citizens to vote not the right of corporations to buy our elections.”
Sanders has been all over the country talking about campaign finance reform, even calling for the same Constitutional Amendment that Clinton is referring to. The difference comes from their donor support. “I don’t have a super PAC, I don’t want a super PAC.” Sanders boasted of how he is building his campaign with true grassroots support and small donations from everyday Americans at an average of $31 dollars.
This is where I see the biggest split between them. Both say they want to end the unlimited flow of dark money in politics, but only one is willing to stand up and say “no.” The Sanders campaign is trying to show that they can win this election without Wall Street hedge fund managers and special interests donating to his campaign, or billionaires who are only looking out for their best interests.
To many of Bernie’s supporters, this is their biggest issue. This is why they are organizing and building a campaign without hundreds of millions from super PACs.
As I was leaving I stopped and talked to a woman who was sitting near me for the entire convention. She was jumping up and down when Clinton took the stage and at the time was obviously a Hillary supporter. However as Bernie was speaking, I saw her cheering, then standing and cheering, for what he was saying. I asked her, of the two, whom did she like better. She responded, “Hillary, I think she has the experience and the knowledge to win.” I followed up with what experience does Bernie lack that you think Hillary is more qualified? She told me honestly, she did not know anything about him. She had never heard him speak before, but she liked what she heard. She told me she was going to go home at look up his website and find out more about him after hearing him speak.
This, my friends, is what the primary is all about. It about listening to all the candidates, no matter how big or small their campaign may be, and judging for yourself who is the best to lead our nation.
This is also why it is so important to have more debates. We need all Americans to hear all of the candidates — so they can decide for themselves who will lead our party to victory in 2016.
Best Line of the Day
The best line of the day goes to Hillary Clinton. She was talking about how Donald Trump is a misogynist and is demeaning to women. His response to others calling him a misogynist was that he “cherishes” women.
Hillary responded by saying:
“Donald Trump needs to stop cherishing women and start respecting women.”